elcome, once again, to my combo-tastic laboratory! We've once again reached that part of the Magic calendar when a delicious new set is just on the horizon, so close you can catch a whiff of that "new booster pack" aroma. There's certainly a ton of awesome things swirling around this new set, Worldwake.
As far as I tell from reading various flavor articles, including Doug Beyer's excellent feature article on the set, Worldwake sees the land of Zendikar (introduced in its namesake set) begin to rise up, filled with all sorts of emotions, no doubt. Could it be sadness? Lost love? An angry "Don't tread on me ... ANYMORE!" attitude? Or none of the above? Personally, I'm inclined to answer A, C, or D. I'm not so sure about the romantic lives of lands, but I've always suspected they've had a thing for mana artifacts.
Anyway, some sweet examples of these lively lands include Lavaclaw Reaches (which happily seems to be part of a cycle) and Wind Zendikon (also seemingly part of a neat common cycle). You can find those and other neat-o preview cards in the Visual Spoiler on the Worldwake product page.
Speaking of which, it's time to unveil my own Worldwake preview card. Now, unlike many of cards in the Visual Spoiler, my preview card doesn't have much to do with lands or mana specifically. It does, however, explore a really interesting scope of cards, which is essentially the goal of a great Johnny card. And I'm confident in saying that Amulet of Vigor is, in fact, a great Johnny card. Click here to check it out.
As seems to be the case with many of my preview cards (not that I'm complaining—if it's complicated, it's definitely creative!), here's a small FAQ entry while you let the many possible interactions wash over your mind. Or something like that.
* If you control more than one Amulet of Vigor, each Amulet's ability triggers when a permanent enters the battlefield tapped and under your control. The first ability that resolves will untap that permanent. If the permanent somehow becomes tapped again before the next ability resolves, the next ability will untap it as well (and so on).
* For Amulet of Vigor's ability to trigger, a permanent must enter the battlefield tapped due to an effect that says "put [the permanent] onto the battlefield tapped," "[this permanent] enters the battlefield tapped," or the like. If it enters the battlefield untapped, the ability won't trigger, even if you tap that permanent afterward.
* dramatic pause *
What did I tell you! Amulet of Vigor does something no other card in the game can do: It's the default "lord" for "enters the battlefield tapped" creatures, and is the only card able to mess with those creatures and permanents.
Would you like me to begin talking about it? Right-o.
Have Some Vim with That Vigor
So what awesome and slightly complicated interactions can be found with Amulet of Vigor. Personally, I love ridiculously open-ended cards like this.
We'll start with a subtle detail that you may not have noticed yet: Amulet of Vigor is an artifact that costs . In Magic speak, this means it's a cog! Cogs, as those of us who played heavily during Mirrodin block (specifically Fifth Dawn) are aware, are quite useful and insanely fetchable. Trinket Mage can find one, Artificer's Intuition can repeatedly find one, and Salvaging Station can bring one back from the dead.
Maybe it's just me, but I imagine a solid deck built around Amulet of Vigor would need some tutors. Why? Because where one Amulet is fine, two are doubly fine. Check out the first bullet of that FAQ entry that you skipped.
Okay, onto actual card interactions. Amulet of Vigor is part of the official "land" block, after all, so I guess it's appropriate we start with ...
When I plugged "battlefield tapped" into Gatherer and other useful card databases, most of the cards that spat out were lands. Specifically, "enters the battlefield tapped" lands, of which there are plenty.
Let me just make some honest statements here. You can play out a Ravnica dual land fully untapped without the Shock. Terramorphic Expanse suddenly one-ups the Zendikar (and Onslaught) fetch lands. Rupture Spire can pay for itself. The Ravnica bouncelands, Vesuva, and Thawing Glaciers (especially Thawing Glaciers!) become doubly absurd.
My two favorite lands to abuse with the Amulet happen to come from Zendikar itself, though. Oran-Vief, the Vastwood seems crazy with two Amulets in play. Somehow make a bunch of green creatures (any decent Saproling maker can do the trick), then play Oran-Vief and get two activations of its second ability!
From lands themselves, it's a short jump to cards that fetch lands. As weird at this might be, an InVigorated Rampant Growth will fetch an untapped land. Damn. As a player who loves Search for Tomorrow for that aspect alone, I find the possibilities endlessly pleasing. Sakura-Tribe Elder becomes even more broken than before, as does Khalni Heart Expedition. New Frontiers can be pretty bonkers with an Amulet of Vigor out. While your opponent gets five tapped lands, your five lands untap untapped, ready to uncork a Lavaball Trap. (Ouch!)
Now with more broken.
Scapeshift, already a mentally dazzling card, gains yet another intriguing wrinkle. Now that whatever lands you find enter the battlefield untapped, you can simply find all the Urzatron pieces, or four Cloudposts (which, by the way, are officially busted here). I'm envisioning a turn-one Amulet into an accelerated turn-three Scapeshift, finding four Cloudposts and instantly generating sixteen mana to cast, I don't know, a Aladdin's Ring. Or Draco. A similar card here is Planar Birth. WOW. Remember all those lands you sacrificed to Scapeshift, or Constant Mists? Well, they're back and InVigorated.
Here's a quick deck built on this land-based concept. With all the untapped lands lying about, I needed a sink of a sort. Worldwake provides again in the primal Omnath, Locus of Mana. This deck has the potential to absolutely flood its mana pool with green mana.
Some neat interactions in here include using Sylvan Safekeeper to protect Omnath, watching your back with Constant Mists, chaining New Frontiers into Scapeshift into Planar Birth (which is quite fun), and using Omnath and Helix Pinnacle to clean house. There are so many other cards to add, Seedborn Muse and Lotus Cobra being some of the first to leap to mind.
Enough of lands (for now). What other permanents sometimes enter the battlefield tapped?
Skyshroud Behemoth is a card I've always thought of as the poster child for "enters the battlefield tapped" creatures (probably because I started playing during Nemesis.) Hey, if you suit it up with a Lightning Greaves, you'll immediately be attacking with a 10/10, but I've got cooler fish to fry.
Here's a new turn sequence involving Chronosavant: Turn one: Plains, Amulet of Vigor. Turn two: tap for , play Orzhov Basilica, bounce the tapped Plains. Untap Orzhov Basilica and tap for ( in your mana pool.) Cast Tireless Tribe, discard Chronosavant, then return it to the battlefield and untap it. Two great defenders played so early should make up for the lost turn.
Combo stalwart Nacatl War-Pride makes lots of tokens that enter the battlefield tapped. When the Amulet allows them to untap while still attacking, there's a small cache of cards that can take advantage. Knotvine Paladin can gain a large attacking boost (stack it so the War-Pride's trigger resolves first). Use Glare of Subdual and the attacking War-Pride tokens to tap down any blockers. Conspire a Barkshell Blessing literally mid-combat. Sword of the Paruns can mess with power and toughness. If you get enough War-Pride tokens, make a giant Mossbridge Troll (or Keldon Battlewagon.) My personal favorites in this category are the underplayed convoke instants. Overwhelm is nice, and the rarely seen Chant of Vitu-Ghazi might gain you upwards of 15 life on a large War-Pride attack.
Militia's Pride is another card that makes tokens enter the battlefield tapped and attacking. I figured I'd make this deck, since I'd gotten this far anyway.
Prides and Prejudice
I shoehorned the Oran-Rief, the Vastwood interaction in here, as well as a bunch of Saprolings to complement the Zendikar nonbasic. It's fun to copy Oran-Rief with Vesuva. Novablast Wurm, meanwhile is here because it's a green and white deck during Worldwake preview week. Also, it rules.
There's another creature that's neither green nor white but combos very efficiently with Amulet of Vigor. That creature is Patron of the Moon. Often appearing in heavy Moonfolk decks (which tend to return lands to hands often), the Patron operates at hyper speed with Amulet of Vigor around.
How so? Let's say you have a Ravnica bounce land like Dimir Aqueduct in your hand. You have Patron of the Moon and Amulet of Vigor on the board with some lands. Pay to activate the Patron of the Moon. Choose to put the Aqueduct onto the battlefield (plus another land if you want). The Amulet will see that it enters untapped. The Aqueduct will still try to bounce a land, though, so tap it for before having it bounce itself.
Now you're back where you began, except you've spent to get . Keep repeating this, using the to pay the Patron, and soon you'll have infinite black mana. You'll have to use it in that step, however, so just aim something like a giant Consume Spirit at your opponent's noggin.
I'm going to shift this combo to red, because I prefer both red as a color and Banefire as an spell. That means Izzet Boilerworks will step in. Seething Song is also a decent accelerator for plopping the Patron down early. Soratami Rainshaper can facilitate the offering option as well.
I also want to use red to play Thieves' Auction, which works curiously with Amulet of Vigor. At first glance, it seems you get the best deal: Pick up the Amulet first, and then reap the benefits of the broken symmetry. However, depending on what's on the battlefield, you might want or need something else more than the Amulet. In that case, your opponent will probably wind up with the Amulet, meaning he or she gets the untapping benefits! Kooky.
Here, the Amulet can help out Terrarion as well. Also, this is the first time I've seen Ashling's Prerogative used as a weapon. Since you're running Amulets, you don't care if your creatures are the wrong converted mana cost. Instead, you wait for your opponent to play out a threat. Bounce it with an Æther Spellbomb, which you can tutor for with Trinket Mage, and then cast the Prerogative and name its cost. Clunky, but totally cool.
I'll see you next week, with another Worldwake preview card!